Sunday, 21 April 2013

#OBSpringFling - Author Interview - Anne Allen



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#OBSpringFling



Tell us a bit about your family.  I’m the mother of three adult children, Louise, Craig and Grant and grandmother of two little ones, Freya (6) and Harry (3). Sadly I lost my husband to suicide when we were both 35 so I brought up the children alone. It was tough on all of us and I’m very proud of my children who have become such great adults. My loss triggered off a restlessness within me so I dragged the children around the UK before settling for a reasonable time in Guernsey, an island between England and France. I’m now back in England, in Devon, to be near my daughter and her children.

What is your favorite quality about yourself? That I’m loyal and make a good friend.

What is your least favorite quality about yourself? I’m prone to rash decisions, particularly where spending money’s concerned!

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? That I became a successful psychotherapist and gained a degree while a single mother

What is your favorite color? Blue

What is your favorite food? Lobster

When and why did you begin writing? I’ve always had an ‘itch’ in the back of my head to write a book and friends had for years told me that I should. I think this was more to do with the fact that my life could not be described as boring! I did, in fact, start to write my life story but somehow just couldn’t get into it. I may have another go one day when I no longer have to protect the guilty. 

Ironically, my first stab at ‘real’ writing was an entry into a UK national competition run by Prima magazine a few years ago. The wanted a 500 word true-life story describing a life-changing event. My mother pushed me into entering, thinking a fiction piece was needed and thought it would encourage me to get on with my novel. From being a reluctant entrant I emerged as the winner with a £500 prize. I was began to realise that I could write and began my journey as a novelist.

What genre are you most comfortable writing? Romance with a twist. My first novel is a romantic mystery and my second a romantic drama

What inspired you to write your first book? At the time I won the writing competition I had just read a couple of books which had stuck in my mind. One centred on an old house which needed renovating, but the young woman who’d inherited it had very little money. The other book was set on a small French island and reminded me of Guernsey where I’d spent many happy years. A story using both these elements and others started to develop in my head and it went from there!

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? That writing a book is a lot harder than I’d thought! It’s also very enjoyable, naturally, but I’ve come to have a greater respect for writers than I’d had previously.

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? Yes, several times. It may only last for a few hours and can be helped by going out for a walk or meeting up with friends or reading. Just focussing on something else is good. If the block is deeper I’ve simply put the writing to one side until ideas start to flow again. This has happened more with my second book than the first. This could be explained by the fact that I now know more about how it should be done and question myself a lot.

Can you share a little of your current work with us? Chapter One
Jeanne went out on deck as the spring sun broke through the clouds. A warm glow spread over green and gold jewel-like Herm and its larger neighbour, grey and white building encrusted Guernsey.  

The salt-laden air enveloped her like an old and trusty coat. Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and was a child again, playing on the beach with her parents. The image was so powerful that tears formed and she blundered, unseeing, towards the railings.

As her vision cleared she found herself staring at Herm and, without warning, was overwhelmed by such a strong feeling of fear that she had to hold onto the rail.  Jeanne’s heart began to race, blood pounded in her head and her breathing came in short, painful gasps.  Oh my God, what’s happening to me? After all this time, please, not again! Struggling to breathe she was on the verge of passing out. Letting go of the rail she stumbled, crashing into a man who was walking past.

‘Hey, steady on!  Look where you’re going!’ he said angrily, grabbing hold of her to stop them falling. 

‘Overdid the duty frees, did you?’

Stung by his accusation, she took a deep breath before replying. ‘No . . .no. I. I just lost my balance.’  

The man’s hands were gripping her arms so hard that she could already imagine the bruises.  ‘Hey, that hurts!’

He loosened his grip and guided her back to the rail where she clung on, filling her lungs with the sea air.

‘Sorry, didn’t mean to hurt you. OK now?’

Jeanne nodded. As the man stepped back she took in, through still blurred eyes; dark brown hair, deep blue eyes and the muscled arms of a man unlikely to be a pen-pusher. Responding to his slightly warmer tone, she managed a tight smile before straightening up and walking, unsteadily, to the starboard side.

What on earth was that?   Is this what I can expect now? Perhaps I shouldn’t have come back though 

I didn’t have much choice .  . .  The thoughts whirled around her pounding head.  She shuddered as she leant against the railings and Guernsey came into full view.  While the ferry headed towards St Peter Port harbour, she felt as if she were approaching a strange, unknown country rather than the land of her birth.  The whole of the northern sea front, from Les Banques into St Peter Port, had been transformed.  Towering edifices of granite and glass had replaced the old, tired mish-mash of warehouses, scruffy hotels and shops. With a gasp, she realised that even the elegant landmark of the Royal Hotel had been supplanted.

Wow! What’s happened here?  It was if a natural disaster had occurred, flattening the old front and replacing it by buildings more reminiscent of London than of the parochial island she remembered.  She’d never have thought that Guernsey would move into the twenty first century with such a bang.

The dramatic transformation which lay before her seemed to Jeanne to be an echo of all the change in her own life and she felt a stranger here.  She wished that she had stayed in the familiar, dull Midlands town which had been her home these past fifteen years.  For a moment the urge to remain on the ferry and return to England, without setting foot on the island, was overwhelming.  Her face must have mirrored her inner turmoil as a middle-aged lady standing nearby asked, ‘Are you all right, dear?  Only you’ve gone very white.’

‘I’m fine, thanks.  Just not very good on boats.’

The older lady nodded sympathetically.  ‘My Tom gets seasick too.  Has to fill himself up with beer or the odd whisky or two before he’ll set foot on a boat.  Just as well I can drive or we’d be marooned on the ferry till he’s sobered up!’ She laughed.

Jeanne grinned weakly.

‘Aren’t these waters supposed to be dangerous?’

‘Yes, they can be, if you don’t know where all the rocks are,’ Jeanne replied. Yet again, her heart hammered against her chest and her breathing quickened.  She fought down the feelings of panic to add, ‘but these big boats are perfectly safe,’ wondering who she was really trying to reassure.

Jeanne now joined the throng of eager passengers heading towards the car deck, found her car and sat there feeling sick and trapped in the echoing bowel of the ship.  She would just do what had to be done here and then go back – but where? Her body arched with pain at the memory of her loss. Going back would be as painful as going on, she realised.  The sound of car horns blaring behind her brought her back to the present. She started the engine and joined the queue towards the gangway and whatever lay ahead.

How did you come up with the title Dangerous Waters? The story centres around a tragedy which took place at sea and also, Jeanne, the central character, finds herself in ‘dangerous waters’ with regard to finding a new love. Case closed J

Can you tell us about your main character? Jeanne Le Page is a thirty-something young woman who had left her home in Guernsey 15 years ago after her family were killed in an accident. She had settled in England with an aunt and finished her education before becoming a journalist. She is only returning to Guernsey now as her grandmother has died and left her a cottage. Jeanne is suffering from the end of a long-term relationship so is in a pretty bad way.

Who designed the cover? Claire Siggery, a graphic designer recommended by my son. I’m really pleased with the result as it looks particularly good on the paperback version. Her website is www.clairesiggery.co.uk

Who is your publisher? Matador, an imprint of a small independent UK publisher. They cater for self-published writers like myself.

How do you promote this book? Mainly online, through book bloggers, reviewers and social media. I didn’t set up my promotion until the book was published which was rather late in the day. I also sell very well in Guernsey and launched my book there, with book signings and radio interviews. Book signings in England have helped, too. One thing I’ve learnt is that you can never stop promoting – if you do, the sales will dry up.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? That no matter what life throws at us, we can cope and become stronger. Dangerous Waters looks at the issues of love and loss, something we’re all familiar with. As a psychotherapist I never cease to be amazed at how people cope with even the most awful tragedies. Jeanne’s journey, from a sad and lonely teenager to a loving and loved young woman can be seen as something which strikes a chord.

Have you started another book yet? Yes, titled ‘Finding Mother’. It’s the story of a young woman, Nicole who, as her marriage reaches a crisis point, seeks to find her natural mother. She feels the need to understand herself and her roots while she re-examines her life. The novel also covers the back-stories of the mother and grandmother who have both hidden secrets for years. The setting is predominately Guernsey (I really do love that place!) but there are excursions to both contemporary and wartime England, Jersey and Spain.

I’m looking to publish ‘Finding Mother in 2013, in both paperback and ebook.

What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out? It’s now so easy to self-publish that anyone can do it. The hard part is realising that writers need help to present their work in the best possible manner. This means using an editor, proof reader and professional book-cover designer, all of whom are readily available in this burgeoning market. Promotion is then next on the list and here the choice is endless! I wish I’d started a blog years ago instead of after my book was published. Blogging is a very valuable tool and helps to get a writer’s name known even before a book is published. Beta readers are great, helping a writer to see if their book is well written or needs editing. They’ll usually be only too happy to provide reviews when the book’s published.

Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers? Thanks very much for buying/reading Dangerous Waters and I really hope it gave you as much pleasure as it did me while writing it. I hope you’ve enjoyed finding out a little more about me and that you’re looking forward to my next book, ‘Finding Mother’ J

What do you do to unwind and relax? Naturally I love reading, but seem to have less time for it now I’m busy writing. I like to switch off with a good drama on television or go out with friends for a film or play, a chat and a laugh. Most important! As a besotted grandmother, being with them is very therapeutic and freshens me ready for the next chapter.

Buy at Amazon
Genre - Romance, Mystery (PG13)
Connect with Anne Allen on Facebook and Twitter
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Books Sold - 6 Nov 2011 to 31 May 2012

Some of you have asked me for my total number of books sold to evaluate KDP Select so here it is. Bear in mind, that results will vary based on genre and author. Good luck and remember, Keep Moving Forward.

Total - 120,836

1. Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out
Amazon Kindle - 42,559
Paperback -
Smashwords -

2. Frequent Traveller
Amazon Kindle - 35277
Paperback -
Smashwords -

3. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 1
Amazon Kindle - 462
Smashwords -

4. Mirror Me Martha (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 281
Smashwords -

5. Drive On Hope (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 190
Smashwords -

6. Blog-A-Licious Directory 2012
Amazon Kindle - 1
Smashwords -

7. Pandora's Reading Room 1
Amazon Kindle -
Paperback - N/A

8. The Cat That Barked (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle -

9. Dora's Essentials - Examining Anxiety
Amazon Kindle -

10. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 2
Amazon Kindle -

11. Elevenses from Around the World
Amazon Kindle -

12. Genetically Modified Foods vs. Sustainability
Amazon Kindle -

Blog-A-Licius - Sherbet Blossom

SherbetBlossom

Blog-A-Licious

Dealightfully Frugal

Blog-A-Licious - The Few, The Proud, The Wife

Blog-A-Licious

My Soul Slippers

Blog-A-Licous - Textbook Mommy

Blog-A-Licious - Blue Frogs Legs

Blog-A-Licious - Pretty All True

Pretty All True

Blog-A-Licious - tbaoo

tbaoo

Blog-A-Licious

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Blog-A-Licious - The Invisible Art

Blog-A-Licious - Rediscovering Domesticity

Rediscovering Domesticity

Blog-A-Licious - Quiver Full

Blog-A-Licious - Cori's Big Mouth

Blog-A-Licious - Great Fun

Greatfun4kids

Blog-A-Licious - Busy Wife

Blog-A-Licious - Steps To Happiness

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Blog-A-Licious - Toby & Max


Blog-A-Licious - Amelie

Raising Amelie

Blog-A-Licious - Peas In A Pod

Blog-A-Licious - Riley

Blognostics - Poetry

BlogNostics

My Awards - September 2010

My Awards - September 2010
Awarded By Jo Frances

My Awards - May 2011

My Awards - May 2011
Awarded By Alejandro Guzman

My Awards - May 2011

My Awards - May 2011
Awarded by Kriti Mukherjee

My Awards - April 2011

My Awards - April 2011
Awarded By Roy Durham

My Awards - June 2011

My Awards - June 2011
Awarded By Sulekha Rawat

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